Exploring UAE’s Creative Economy Through the Museum of the Future

Media Contact:
Shayna Horwitz | (202) 292 2302 | shorwitz@meridian.org

May 15, 2019
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates


Meridian International Center and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. co-host Salon Luncheon Exploring UAE's Creative Economy Through the Museum of the Future

Dr. Noah Raford and Ambassador Stuart Holliday discuss the Museum of the Future. Photo by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, DC.

Meridian International Center and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C., stepped into the future by exploring how the UAE is pushing boundaries to become the world’s leading innovation hub and cultural engine.

As co-hosts of a salon lunch discussion on the UAE as a platform for emerging futures, Meridian and the Embassy welcomed Dr. Noah Raford, Chief of Global Affairs and Futurist in Chief at the Dubai Future Foundation and Museum of the Future, who engaged museum professionals and technology influencers in a presentation on how to navigate the transition from the 20th Century into the future. Meridian’s President and CEO Ambassador Stuart Holliday took the stage with Dr. Raford to moderate a conversation on how the UAE government supports an environment for a thriving creative economy.

“Today we are talking about the future,” explained Dana Al Marashi, Head of Cultural Diplomacy at the UAE Embassy in D.C., as she introduced the speakers. “What it holds for us and where we can provide the necessary facilities and tools for the brightest minds from around the world to test theories, explore opportunities and develop partnerships which will create the kind of future that will positively benefit all people all over the world in a variety of ways.”

Al Marashi welcomed guests to step into Dr. Raford’s concept for the Museum of the Future and learn how the UAE is taking the lead in exploring the challenges of the future and converting them into opportunities for sustainable development.

"A small country with big dreams,” Dr. Raford said the UAE's political and technological landscape, particularly within Dubai, provides the foundation for the Museum of the Future to succeed. The UAE is home to one of the most successful economies in the world with over 200 nationalities represented in its capitol and throughout the country. After the global financial recession, the Dubai Future Foundation tasked itself to look toward the future in a more systematic way, both to avoid the risks and to realize the opportunities for shaping future policy and action.

Recognizing the gaps in traditional stakeholder engagement, the Foundation decided to design “21st Century solutions to solve 21st Century problems.” In 2017, the Museum of the Future hosted an exhibit that re-imagined the three biggest factors contributing to humanity’s ecological footprint – global industry, agriculture, and urbanism – as a means to radically innovate the way we live on Earth. Visitors stepped into a future world where new levels of self-sufficiency, plentiful resources, and engaging uses of technology and biology improved the quality of life. "The experiential is a powerful tool for generating political consensus,” observed Dr. Raford.

After seeing the tangible benefits from the Museum’s speculative design process, the Dubai government is now taking active steps to work with innovators on solutions while also offering the political support to foster innovation and creative experiments.

Dr. Raford, an American-born innovator who has worked at the World Economic Forum, Monitor/GN, Space Syntax Ltd. And Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, said there are few places in the world outside of the UAE that have the unique combination of “small enough to get things done, large enough to do things that matter, well-funded enough to actually try things out, but, most importantly, politically courageous enough to do the difficult things.”

Notable guests in attendance at the luncheon included The Honorable David Adams, Mark Erdly, Gregory Golden, Prince Joel Makonnen, Princess Ariana Austin Makonnen, Hreinn Pálsson, Mei Xu, Chase Rynd, Aviva Rosenthal, and Rachel Goslins.

From Abu Dhabi to Washington, DC, Meridian International Center has worked closely with the UAE Embassy for the past 5 years to put a spotlight on the region’s diverse cultures and creative economy. As a nonpartisan institution, Meridian convenes cultural programs like this so Americans have a neutral and trusted space for in-depth discussions about the art and culture of the UAE while also making professional connections and genuine friendships along the way. This program is one part in a series that highlights the cultural and bilateral relationship between the UAE and the United States.


Meridian International Center is a diplomatic and global leadership institution that strengthens U.S. engagement with the world and accelerates collaboration through the exchange of leaders, ideas and culture.

This program was designed by our cultural experts in the Meridian Center for Culture Diplomacy, which is the leading center in the United States that employs the arts and culture as a tool of diplomacy and cross-cultural understanding.

The Embassy of the UAE in Washington, D.C., is the diplomatic mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United States.

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